Protopriest Sergii Shchukin
A Brief History of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia , 1922-1972
(written on her 50th anniversary by Protopriest Sergii Shchukin)
The Revolution of 1917, having destroyed the centuries-old Russian state, drew along with it onerous consequences for the Russian Orthodox Church. The first result of the bolshevik coup was the upsetting of the unity of the Russian Church . Political shifts of power, civil war, the severing of contact with the far reaches of the empire, the loss of Russian territories and, finally, the emigration, all this tore a portion of the Russian people away from the ecclesiastical centers. Although in Poland , the Baltics, and the Far East , dioceses preserved their organization, communication with Patriarch Tikhon and his Ecclesiastical Authority was lost. Even more difficult was the situation in territories seized during the civil war and among the emigre communities beyond the reach of the Soviet state. Many Orthodox people were left as "sheep without a shepherd," and urgently needed ecclesiastical order.
By Divine Providence, Patriarch Tikhon stood at the head of the Russian Church , who was during the preceding 15 years the Ruling Bishop of the North American Diocese. He well understood the danger of the separation of dioceses from Moscow and wisely foresaw the possibility that bishops cut off from the Patriarchate would need to form local Church administrations. In 1920 he issued Decree No. 362: "In the event a diocese...finds itself completely out of contact with the Higher Church Administration...the diocesan bishop immediately enters into relations with the bishops of neighboring dioceses for the purpose of organizing a higher instance of ecclesiastical authority."
In 1920, a group of bishops found themselves in Constantinople, having been evacuated from Russia together with military and civil populations. With the blessing of the Patriarch of Constantinople they convened a Council of Russian bishops in the diaspora, and, not yet knowing of Patriarch Tikhon's order, formed the Higher Ecclesiastical Authority Abroad. This council was not an arbitrary meeting of a few bishops but a conference of a multitude of ruling bishops who left their dioceses along with their flocks. Soon ruling bishops outside of Russia joined them--from Finland , Latvia , Manchuria , China , Japan and North America . There were 34 bishops, all of them separated from Moscow , who deemed it necessary to form a higher ecclesiastical organ for the temporary administration of the dioceses abroad.
The Council in Constantinople chose as its leader Metropolitan Anthony of Kiev and Volyn', the eldest hierarch of the Russian Church , who was one of the candidates for patriarch, and formed its own executive arm--the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority Abroad. In 1921 this center moved, at the invitation of Patriarch Varnava of Serbia, to Yugoslavia , and that year it convened the 1st All-Diaspora Church Council of Russian Bishops, Clergymen and Laymen. The Council was held in Sremsk-Karlovats with the participation of 155 representatives chosen from all regions outside of Russia , along with 16 bishops. Presided over by Metropolitan Anthony, the Council studied all the questions pertaining to the organization and administration of church life abroad. Questions regarding help for the starving in Russian were also discussed, and an appeal was made to the International Conference in Genoa for aid to Russia , as were appeals to the flock of the Russian Orthodox Church in the diaspora.
It is entirely understandable that the decisions of the 1st All-Diaspora Council provoked the strong disapproval of the Soviet government, which then requested of Patriarch Tikhon the suspension of the activities of the clergy abroad. Under this pressure, the Patriarch, in 1922, was obliged to issue an order decreeing the shutting down of the Supreme Church Authority Abroad. A few days later, the Patriarch was arrested.
In August 1922, a Council of the Bishops of the Church Abroad was held in Yugoslavia , which decreed that the ukase of the Patriarch be executed and the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority be disbanded. But subsequently it was decided, on the basis of Patriarch Tikhon's Decree No. 362, that in light of the impossibility of relations with Moscow , to organize a temporary Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. This decision by the bishops cut off from Moscow became from that moment on the canonical basis for the existence of the ecclesiastical center abroad.
It is worth noting that the Synod Abroad informed Patriarch Tikhon of its activities, and the Patriarch imposed no other suspensions upon the bishops abroad despite the insistence of the bolsheviks. For this reason it follows that Patriarch Tikhon deemed the activities of the clergy abroad as legitimate and in accordance with the interests of the Church. Only in 1928, after the declaration of Metropolitan Sergius, did such suspensions resume.
After Metropolitan Sergius' declaration of 1927, the Synod Abroad expressed its rejection of it and decreed: "The part of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad must cease administrative contacts with the Moscow Church authority, in view of the impossibility of normal relations with it and as a result of its enslavement by the godless Soviet state...[The Church Abroad] does not separate itself from the Mother Church and does not consider itself autocephalous. As before, it recognizes as its head the locum tenens of the Patriarchal Throne, Metropolitan Peter." And so, the Synod Abroad immediately took the side of Metropolitan Peter and other eminent bishop-martyrs who refused to submit to Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod.
Consequently, a new reason appeared for refusing to submit to the Moscow Patriarchate: its dependency on the communist authorities who strove to destroy the Church. After this, the Synod Abroad considered itself the representative of the free part of the Russian Church , temporarily torn away from its Homeland.
After that, Metropolitan Sergius demanded of the Synod Abroad that it sign a document promising "utter loyalty to the Soviet state." In reply to this the Synod Abroad in its Epistle of 1928 declared: "To decisively reject the proposal of Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod to sign a document of loyalty to the Soviet state, as uncanonical and exceedingly harmful to the Church...If a decree of Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod is issued on the expulsion of the bishops and clergy abroad from the ranks of the Moscow Patriarchate, such a decree would be uncanonical."
By the ukase of the Sergian Synod of 9 May 1928, the Synod and Council Abroad were declared disbanded and all its activities invalid. Further, in an attempt to act through the Serbian Patriarch Varnava, the Moscow Synod attempted for a long time to force the Synod Abroad to recognize the Patriarchate's authority. When this turned out to be unsuccessful, the Sergian Synod in 1934 passed judgment on the "Karlovatsky group," suspending them from clerical functions until the decision of an ecclesiastical court or until complete repentance. But none of this prevented the Synod Abroad from continuing its work in administering the dioceses in the diaspora and nourishing Orthodox Russians who were outside of Russia . The Synod understood that subjugation of the Church Abroad to the Moscow Patriarchate was needed not for the good of the Russian Orthodox people in the emigration but for the purposes of [the Soviets'] political influence upon them. The recognition of the Patriarchate by Metropolitan Evlogii of Western Europe fully confirmed this.
By this time, the Synod Abroad conducted a wide scope of organizational and missionary work. Even before this, the complete union of all Russian dioceses in China, Japan, North America and Western Europe was achieved, the metropolitans of which, Platon and Eulogius, recognized the Synod Abroad and attended the Bishops' Councils in Yugoslavia.
Thanks to this unity of the Church Abroad, church life began to blossom: new parishes were formed, churches were built and theological schools were established (in Paris and Harbin ), as well as monasteries.
The monastery in Ladomirovo in the Carpathians printed church and liturgical books. Bishops' Councils were held periodically, clergymen were ordained and new bishops were consecrated for dioceses abroad. So, for example, over the lifetime of Metropolitan Anthony (until 1936), bishops were consecrated for Canada , the United States , Manchuria, London , England , and China . This alone bears testimony to the scope of church life in the emigration.
Still, the complete unity of the Church Abroad proved short-lived. Separatist movements soon arose, and some bishops, supported by local sentiments, desired to become independent from the Synod Abroad. Among these attempts was the so-called "Platon Troubles" in the United states and the Evlogian schism in Europe .
From 1922-1926, the Orthodox Church in North America was under the authority of the Synod Abroad. At first it was led by Archbishop Alexander (Nemolovsky), but in 1923, Patriarch Tikhon recommended that the Synod of the Church Abroad appoint Metropolitan Platon (Rozhdestvensky) to that diocese, who was sent there as temporary ruling bishop of the North American Diocese. After a year this appointment was confirmed by an ukase of Patriarch Tikhon, but in 1924, under pressure from the Soviet authorities, the Patriarch rescinded this appointment and even recalled Metropolitan Platon to Moscow to submit to an ecclesiastical court. Thereafter the North American Diocese convened a Council of its clergy and laiety in Detroit , which made the following decisions:
1. To elect Metropolitan Platon as the head of an independent American Orthodox Church.
2. To make Metropolitan Platon the chief trustee of all American parishes.
By means of these measures, the American Diocese sought to free itself from subjugation to the Moscow Patriarchate and at the same time become independent from the Church Abroad.
That same year, 1924, this question was discussed, in the presence of Metropolitan Platon, at the Council of Bishops in Sremsk-Karlovats.
The Council addressed the American Diocese with an epistle, calling upon it to cease their attempts to illegal autonomy and to submit to the Synod Abroad. At the following Council of Bishops in 1926, Metropolitan Platon, who was present, reported that he did not support the attempts of his diocese to attain autocephaly and that even the Detroit Council was allowed by him merely "in order to give vent to the moods of the advocates of autocephaly." For this reason, Metropolitan Platon asked the Council to give him a special decree to rule the North American Diocese and to conduct an ecclesiastical court case against the "living-church" activists on the matter of church properties. When the Synod refused to give him this decree, seeing in it the intention of Metropolitan Platon to obtain independence, the latter left the ranks of the Church Abroad. This occurred concurrently with the departure of the ruling bishop of the Western European churches, Metropolitan Evlogii, who also strove to gain independence.
The departure and actions of Metropolitan Platon evoked discord and schism in North America . The Synod sent Archbishop Apollinarii to North America to head the parishes that remained faithful to the Synod Abroad, but in 1927, Metropolitan Platon suggested to Archbishop Apollinarii that he refuse to submit to the Synod Abroad and unilaterally, without a court proceeding, suspended him from his clerical duties. The Synod Abroad, deeming these acts uncanonical, dismissed Metropolitan Platon from heading the North American Diocese, transferring it to the authority of Archbishop Apollinarii. But Metropolitan Platon continued his self-authorized activities and declared on behalf of the "Holy Synod of the American Orthodox Catholic Church" the establishment of an independent American Church . The English language was introduced, gathering Orthodox people in North America and elsewhere. The five American bishops chose as the head of the new Church the American bishop Euthemius of Brooklyn, a Syrian Arab by descent.
Of course, nothing came of this self-created "autocephaly." All other Orthodox Churches condemned it, and Metropolitan Sergius of Moscow refused to recognize it and dismissed Metropolitan Platon from heading the North American Diocese in an ukase issued in 1933. That same year, Archbishop Euthemius defrocked himself, abandoned his monastic orders and married, and in 1934, Metropolitan Platon passed away. The American bishops elected as his replacement bishop Theophilus Pashkovsky, who was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan of All America and Canada . Still, sensing the uncanonical nature of this church, the Council of American Bishops meeting in Pittsburgh in 1936 recognized the Synod of Bishops. The following year, a Council of clergy and laiety accepted the "temporary regulations" on the organization of the American church on the basis of the Patriarchal Ukase of 1920. After this, the Synod of Bishops accepted them into the Church Abroad as a Metropoliate. Metropolitan Theophilus took part in the composition of the Regulations of the American Church at a conference in Yugoslavia presided over by the Serbian Patriarch Varnava. This unity with the Church Abroad continued until 1946.
The story of the Eulogian schism is as follows: in 1920, Metropolitan Eulogius received from the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority in Southern Russia authority over the Western European Diocese, which in 1921 was confirmed by the Patriarchal Synod in Moscow . But in 1922, that same Synod, closing the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority, deemed it necessary to form a temporary administration of churches abroad and asked Metropolitan Eulogius to submit his thoughts on the rights of such an administration. This decree showed that the Patriarchal Synod had only a vague understanding of the Church Abroad, for example, that under the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority there were 9 dioceses abroad with 12 bishops.
Yet Metropolitan Eulogius felt it was possible to maintain his relationship with other bishops, and in 1922 he signed the decree of the Council of Bishops in Yugoslavia on the establishment of the Synod of Bishops. But at the same time, Metropolitan Eulogius began to secretly correspond with Moscow , seeking to receive from Patriarch Tikhon the administration of the entire Church Abroad, and asked him to disband the Synod Abroad. Although the Patriarch issued no orders in regard to this, Metropolitan Eulogius proceeded to make unilateral appointments outside his own diocese. And in 1936, at the regular Council of Bishops in Yugoslavia , he, for incidental circumstances, left the Council session and refused to submit to it.
Leaving the Synod Abroad, Metropolitan Eulogius assumed authority as the first bishop among 19 other bishops who were in the diaspora. The Synod Abroad then decided to take the German Diocese from Metropolitan Eulogius' control and appointed Bishop Tikhon, an appointment that Metropolitan Eulogius did not recognize. After a seven-month controversy, the Synod Abroad, in January 1927, removed Metropolitan Eulogius from the administration of the Diocese and subjected him to ecclesiastical tribunal. Metropolitan Eulogius thereupon appealed to the Moscow Patriarchate, which coincided with the infamous declaration of Metropolitan Sergius on the recognition of the Soviet state. In response, Metropolitan Sergius required of Metropolitan Eulogius and his clergy that they sign an oath of loyalty to the Soviet government. The latter was obliged to send to Moscow a list of clergymen who made such an oath, though this caused great consternation within his diocese.
But even then Metropolitan Eulogius could not refrain from making statements that displeased the Soviets. The Patriarchate faulted him for conducting memorial services for the victims of the Revolution, ceremonial burials of Russian emigres and for his participation in international conferences on the persecution of religion in the USSR . Ultimately, the Moscow Patriarchate dismissed him from his office and suspended him from performing clerical duties along with his vicar bishops. But instead of returning to the Church Abroad, Metropolitan Eulogius, influenced by Parisian [emigre] society, submitted to the Patriarchate of Constantinople as his Western European Exarchate, though a part of his parishes did not recognize this move and did not follow him into schism. These were joined by parishes in Germany , Austria and Czechoslovakia , who remained under the authority of the Synod Abroad.
In 1936, Metropolitan Anthony passed away, having led the Church Abroad wisely for 16 years. The Council of Bishops Abroad chose as his successor Metropolitan Anastassy, one of the members of the All-Russian Council of 1917-18 and a former member of the Holy Synod under Patriarch Tikhon. Since 1924, Metropolitan Anastassy had administered the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem . But from 1935 on, as a result of the ill health of Metropolitan Anthony, Vladyka Anastassy moved to Yugoslavia to take part in the work of the Synod Abroad. One of the first measures taken by the new First Hierarch was the convening of the 2nd All-Diaspora Council of the Church Abroad. They gathered in Sremsk-Karlovats in 1936 with the participation of 13 bishops, 36 clergymen and 56 laymen representing various dioceses in Europe, Asia and North America . Besides studying current affairs, the Council issued two Epistles: "To the Russian People Suffering in the Fatherland," and "To the Russian Flock in the Diaspora."
Soon, Metropolitan Anastassy was to suffer through the difficult years of World War II, bringing more than a few temptations to the flock of the Church Abroad. War struck not only the Russian emigration in Europe, but forced many Russians to flee the Balkans, Poland and the Baltics and head for Central Europe . At first, before the Soviet occupation, Metropolitan Anastassy resided in Belgrade , giving succor to the morale of Russians during the bombing raids and during the German occupation. Later, moving to Austria , and then to Switzerland , Vladyka Anastassy persistently and tactfully defended the interests of the Church Abroad and her scattered flock. For example, when German forces offered to publish an appeal on his behalf to the Russian population to cooperate with the German Army, he categorically refused. In 1944 he called a conference of bishops to discuss the matter of the selection of Metropolitan Sergius as the Patriarch of Moscow. This conference determined that this appointment was uncanonical and in essence did not change the enslaved condition of the Church in the Soviet Union .
In 1946, after the war, Metropolitan Anastassy moved to Munich , where began to organize the work of the Synod Abroad. Before him stood the daunting task of drawing together the Church Abroad, rent asunder and disorganized by the world war. The primary urgent needs of the Russian Diaspora were:
1. The spiritual nourishment of Orthodox emigrants who found themselves homeless.
2. Tending to the thousands of Orthodox refugees who flooded Germany from Poland , the Baltics and the USSR along with their bishops and clergymen.
3. The protection of the same from the possible forced repatriation into Soviet Russia and persecution by the godless state.
4. The further settlement of their lives in the emigration.
From 1946-49, the Synod Abroad directed their efforts towardsthese goals. A Resettlement Committee was organized under the Synod, which worked to obtain visas for countries across the Atlantic . But while plans were being formulated for moving, the Church Abroad needed to take care of the spiritual ministry to Orthodox Russians in refugee camps in Germany , Austria and Italy .
Especially difficult was the situation in which Soviet "non-returners" and their families found themselves, threatened with forced repatriation to the USSR , where imprisonment in concentration camps awaited them. Clergymen and all emigre organizations were mobilized to their defense. All Russian refugees remember how Metropolitan Anastassy constantly visited refugee camps with the Miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, encouraging and supporting the Orthodox faithful. Churches were set up in the camps, along with Russian schools for children, lectures were read, theatrical and musical groups visited, spiritual and lay literature was published. Multitudes of Soviet refugees--bereft of rights and lacking the local language, frightened by Soviet propaganda--received spiritual succor and legal aid for emigrating to new lands. Thanks to these efforts, many thousands of refugees were saved from repatriation and sent across the sea, and were thus able to return to the bosom of the Orthodox Church and give their children a religious upbringing.
In 1946, the first Council of Bishops after the war convened in Munich . New bishops took part who arrived from Eastern Europe . The council made a decision: "Patriarch Alexy frequently appealed to the bishops abroad with the exhortation to enter into canonical submission to the Patriarchate, but in obedience to the directions of our pastoral consciences, we find it morally impossible to heed these calls while the Church authority in Russia is in an unnatural union with the godless state and while all of the Russian Church is deprived of true freedom." The Council also saw to the appointment of bishops to the cathedras in North and South America and Australia , where Russian refugees had gone, as well as the organization of dioceses in Europe .
At the end of 1950, when the main bulk of refugees already resettled across the ocean, Metropolitan Anastassy, together with the Miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, flew to North America, where New York became the new headquarters of the Church Abroad. That same year a Council of Bishops took place there with 11 bishops, while the others submitted written reports. A new Synod was chosen, the Council participants made a pilgrimage to Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, where religious books began to be published and a seminary was opened. The Council also issued the epistle "To All Children of the Orthodox Church in the Diaspora."
The subsequent Council of Bishops was convened in 1953. Fifteen bishops took part, not counting those from Europe, South America and Australia who could not attend. At the time in North America alone (including Canada ), there were some 100 parishes under the Synod Abroad, which gradually built churches and opened parish schools. The Council prepared an Encyclical Epistle to the entire Church Abroad.
Arriving in New York, Metropolitan Anastassy took measures towards unification with the American Metropoliate, whose Council, gathering in Cleveland in 1946, recognized the Moscow Patriarchate. Since by this time the Metropoliate was already subjected to the Patriarch and declared itself autocephalous without any canonical justification, Vladyka Anastassy visited the head of the Metropoliate, Metropolitan Leontius, then organized a conference with the American bishops. But despite the efforts of Metropolitan Anastassy, the Metropoliate refused to recognize the Church Abroad.
Subsequent Councils of Bishops convened in 1956, 1959 and 1962 under the presidency of Metropolitan Anastassy, and continued to organize and strengthen the dioceses in South America, Europe and Australia . The Miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God continued to travel throughout the dioceses all over the world every year, maintaining the consciousness of unity throughout all parts of the Church Abroad. The Council of 1962 consisted of 17 bishops. In its Episcopal Epistle to the Orthodox People in the Diaspora, such questions were addressed as the activity of the World Council of Churches, as well as the development of the Ecumenical Movement, which the Moscow Patriarchate had by this time joined, fulfilling the directions of the Soviet state, which was interested in strengthening its influence abroad. Observers from the Synod of Bishops were present at all ecumenical conferences, as well as Vatican II.
The following Synod of Bishops, in 1964, was devoted to the election of a new First Hierarch, since Metropolitan Anastassy, due to his advancing years, declared his intention to retire. The Council made the following decisions:
1. To elect as the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia Bishop Philaret of Brisbane [ Australia ].
2. To appoint Metropolitan Anastassy as Honorary President of the Synod and Council of Bishops and give him the title "Blessed," with the right to wear two panagias.
On Sunday, 18/31 May 1964, the enthronement of the new First Hierarch took place at the Cathedral of the Mother of God of the Sign. After divine liturgy, the white klobuk was placed upon the head of Metropolitan Philaret with the participation of all the bishops, while Archbishop John of San Francisco , as the eldest bishop, handed him the staff, while Metropolitan Anastassy received the second panagia. That evening, the ceremonial opening of the Council of Bishops took place, at which the new First Hierarch, Archbishop John and Archbishop Nikon spoke. Metropolitan Anastassy, Bishop Anthony of Melbourne and representatives of church society greeted the new head of the Church Abroad.
On the occasion of the election of the new First Hierarch, Conciliar Epistles were composed, "To the Orthodox Flock and All Christians of the World on the Persecution of the Faithful in the USSR," the Epistle of Metropolitan Philaret "To the Orthodox Bishops and All to Whom the Fate of the Russian Church is Dear," and his Epistle to the Patriarch Athenagoras, containing an objection to his drawing closer ties to the Catholic Church.
Turning to the main events after the election of Metropolitan Philaret, we will note only the most important moments in church life.
1. In 1964, upon the decree of the Council, St. John of Kronstadt was canonized, about whom pleas had come from many orthodox faithful.
His canonization took place on 31 October, old style, at the Synodal cathedral in New York . On the eve, at all-night vigil, the icon of St. John and the bishops and clergy sang magnification to him for the first time. After liturgy, led by Blessed Metropolitan Anastassy, Metropolitan Philaret and Archbishop Nikon, and with the participation of a multitude of clergymen and an enormous gathering of worshipers, a service of supplication was served to the new saint of the Russian Church , and Metropolitan Philaret gave a sermon dedicated to St. John . The Metropolitan imparted a significance for all of Russia to this event, for it answered the desire of many Orthodox Christians in enslaved Russia .
2. On 8/21 May 1965, Blessed Metropolitan Anastassy died at the age of 92. His funeral was held on 12/25 May at the Synod Cathedral for the reposed bishop, at which Metropolitan Philaret officiated. Metropolitan Anastassy's body was then taken to Holy Trinity Monastery and buried in a tomb under the church. The tomb was later decorated thanks to donations from the entire Church. Vladyka Anastassy left a wonderful "Testament" in which he called upon the Russian people to keep holy their loyalty to the Church Abroad and not to enter into communion with the enslaved Moscow Patriarchate.
3. On 19 June/2 July 1966, Archbishop John of San Francisco (formerly of Shanghai ), the Vice President of the Synod of Bishops, suddenly died. The funeral for the deceased hierarch, well known to Russians from Yugoslavia , the Far East, France and the West Coast of the United States , was held in San Francisco . Metropolitan Philaret led the many clergy, and addressed the many devotees of the late bishop with the life story of Archbishop John. His body was laid to rest in a tomb under the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow," the building of which was completed with the active participation of the late hierarch. After the funeral service, Archbishop Anthony of Western America and Bishop Savva of Edmonton gave eulogies.
4. The decision was made by the Council of Bishops of 1969 to canonize the famous missionary of North America, Father Herman of Alaska . The canonization was held on 25/26 July 1970 in the Cathedral in San Francisco .
The ceremony was led by Metropolitan Philaret with the participation of 5 bishops and many clergymen. Sermons on St. Herman were given by the First Hierarch and Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco . Almost concurrently, the American Metropoliate conducted a similar glorification of Fr. Herman at a separate ceremony in Alaska .
5. In 1969-70, the Church Abroad actively participated in the question of "autocephaly," which the Northern American Metropoliate obtained from the Moscow Patriarchate. Holding fast to the position of non-recognition of the Patriarchate, which submitted itself to the Communist government and was shackled in its decisions, the Synod of Bishops objected to their claim to autocephaly, considering it uncanonical and beneficial only to the Soviet state. After the Metropoliate obtained autocephaly, the Synod of Bishops published its decision of refusing to recognize this "autocephaly," on the grounds that it was uncanonical and aimed against the interests of the Church. The Synod's position was then relayed to all the local Churches in a special epistle. As is known, all the Orthodox Churches which were free of Communist influence, led by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, did not recognize this "autocephaly." As a result, a portion of the parishes and individual members of the American Metropoliate left its ranks and joined the Church Abroad.
To conclude our brief overview, it must be emphasized that for the 50 years of its existence, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia remained true to its original goals. Over this time, political passions ran rampant, the struggle for ecclesiastical power continued, there were schisms and moral compromises of different hierarchs and entire dioceses abroad. But the Church Abroad continued its prescribed path under the leadership of venerable hierarchs, persecuted "for the sake of truth," but consistently defending spiritual freedom for Orthodox Russians outside the Homeland. The Church Abroad stood and stands until this day on strict canonical ground, manifesting in itself the free portion of the Russian Orthodox Church and continuing the tradition of Patriarch Tikhon, championing the independence of the Russian Church from the godless state. There is nothing remarkable in the fact that this principled position of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad perpetually evokes slander, accusations and threats. That is the fate of all "persecuted for the truth," as Christ the Savior said Himself: "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also." (John, 15:20)